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Exodus 23:20-33

Context
The Angel of the Presence

23:20 1 “I am going to send 2  an angel 3  before you to protect you as you journey 4  and to bring you into the place that I have prepared. 5  23:21 Take heed because of him, and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name 6  is in him. 23:22 But if you diligently obey him 7  and do all that I command, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will be an adversary to your adversaries. 23:23 For my angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them completely. 8 

23:24 “You must not bow down to their gods; you must not serve them or do according to their practices. Instead you must completely overthrow them and smash their standing stones 9  to pieces. 10  23:25 You must serve 11  the Lord your God, and he 12  will bless your bread and your water, 13  and I will remove sickness from your midst. 23:26 No woman will miscarry her young 14  or be barren in your land. I will fulfill 15  the number of your days.

23:27 “I will send my terror 16  before you, and I will destroy 17  all the people whom you encounter; I will make all your enemies turn their backs 18  to you. 23:28 I will send 19  hornets before you that will drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite before you. 23:29 I will not drive them out before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild animals 20  multiply against you. 23:30 Little by little 21  I will drive them out before you, until you become fruitful and inherit the land. 23:31 I will set 22  your boundaries from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River, 23  for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.

23:32 “You must make no covenant with them or with their gods. 23:33 They must not live in your land, lest they make you sin against me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare 24  to you.”

1 sn This passage has some of the most interesting and perplexing expressions and constructions in the book. It is largely promise, but it is part of the Law and so demands compliance by faith. Its points are: God promises to send his angel to prepare the way before his obedient servants (20-23); God promises blessing for his loyal servants (24-33). So in the section one learns that God promises his protection (victory) and blessing (through his angel) for his obedient and loyal worshipers.

2 tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) with the active participle indicates imminent future, something God is about to do.

3 sn The word is מַלְאָךְ (malakh, “messenger, angel”). This angel is to be treated with the same fear and respect as Yahweh, for Yahweh will be speaking in him. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 305-6) says that the words of the first clause do not imply a being distinct from God, for in the ancient world the line of demarcation between the sender and the sent is liable easily to be blurred. He then shows how the “Angel of Yahweh” in Genesis is Yahweh. He concludes that the words here mean “I will guide you.” Christian commentators tend to identify the Angel of Yahweh as the second person of the Trinity (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:446). However, in addition to being a preincarnate appearance, the word could refer to Yahweh – some manifestation of Yahweh himself.

4 tn Heb “protect you in the way.”

5 tn The form is the Hiphil perfect of the verb כּוּן (kun, “to establish, prepare”).

6 sn This means “the manifestation of my being” is in him (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 247). Driver quotes McNeile as saying, “The ‘angel’ is Jehovah Himself ‘in a temporary descent to visibility for a special purpose.’” Others take the “name” to represent Yahweh’s “power” (NCV) or “authority” (NAB, CEV).

7 tn The infinitive absolute here does not add as great an emphasis as normal, but emphasizes the condition that is being set forth (see GKC 342-43 §113.o).

8 tn Heb “will cut them off” (so KJV, ASV).

9 tn The Hebrew is מַצֵּבֹתֵיהֶם (matsevotehem, “their standing stones”); these long stones were erected to represent the abode of the numen or deity. They were usually set up near the altar or the high place. To destroy these would be to destroy the centers of Canaanite worship in the land.

10 tn Both verbs are joined with their infinitive absolutes to provide the strongest sense to these instructions. The images of the false gods in Canaan were to be completely and utterly destroyed. This could not be said any more strongly.

11 tn The perfect tense, masculine plural, with vav (ו) consecutive is in sequence with the preceding: do not bow down to them, but serve Yahweh. It is then the equivalent of an imperfect of instruction or injunction.

12 tn The LXX reads “and I will bless” to make the verb conform with the speaker, Yahweh.

13 sn On this unusual clause B. Jacob says that it is the reversal of the curse in Genesis, because the “bread and water” represent the field work and ground suitability for abundant blessing of provisions (Exodus, 734).

14 tn Or “abort”; Heb “cast.”

15 sn No one will die prematurely; this applies to the individual or the nation. The plan of God to bless was extensive, if only the people would obey.

16 tn The word for “terror” is אֵימָתִי (’emati); the word has the thought of “panic” or “dread.” God would make the nations panic as they heard of the exploits and knew the Israelites were drawing near. U. Cassuto thinks the reference to “hornets” in v. 28 may be a reference to this fear, an unreasoning dread, rather than to another insect invasion (Exodus, 308). Others suggest it is symbolic of an invading army or a country like Egypt or literal insects (see E. Neufeld, “Insects as Warfare Agents in the Ancient Near East,” Or 49 [1980]: 30-57).

17 tn Heb “kill.”

18 tn The text has “and I will give all your enemies to you [as] a back.” The verb of making takes two accusatives, the second being the adverbial accusative of product (see GKC 371-72 §117.ii, n. 1).

19 tn Heb “and I will send.”

20 tn Heb “the beast of the field.”

21 tn The repetition expresses an exceptional or super-fine quality (see GKC 396 §123.e).

22 tn The form is a perfect tense with vav consecutive.

23 tn In the Hebrew Bible “the River” usually refers to the Euphrates (cf. NASB, NCV, NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT). There is some thought that it refers to a river Nahr el Kebir between Lebanon and Syria. See further W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:447; and G. W. Buchanan, The Consequences of the Covenant (NovTSup), 91-100.

24 tn The idea of the “snare” is to lure them to judgment; God is apparently warning about contact with the Canaanites, either in worship or in business. They were very syncretistic, and so it would be dangerous to settle among them.



TIP #08: Use the Strong Number links to learn about the original Hebrew and Greek text. [ALL]
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